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Can You Make Someone Love You?

Probably. But, Can You Make Them Commit To You?

In the early mornings, when my wife is groggy and unwilling to get out of bed, she often calls me with a weary voice to come hug her. It doesn’t happen very often and I hardly make anything of it, but as time goes on — as we hug each other and steal these moments of silence where there’s no words or glances exchanged, it feels to me that I get a glimpse at the language of love.

There are mornings when I’m in a hurry and I’d rather not deal with her. Others when I would prefer we are in the same room but at different spots. But when I get the chance to allow myself to take a deep breath and be present, time stops. It’s just us — a dark room, a cheap bed, light fighting through the thin incomplete edges of the dark drapes.

Us, not against the world, but with each other.

These moments, when I feel the genuine presence of someone who despite the fights we’ve had, the long history we’ve had to grow and go through, someone who still smiles like it was the first time she was kissing me; it’s in moments like this that I start to piece together what love looks like in the real world.

Of course, it causes me to wonder: can I get someone to feel this way about me? Is it a natural feeling? Do we love everyone the same way — with the same warmth and desire to hold close and breathe? Am I just lucky? Did I do anything to deserve this?

Will this end soon? And should I enjoy it while it lasts?

Yes, before you say it, I’ll admit it first: I overthink things. It’s a part of me I have been ashamed of and even slightly worried. I have tried to drown it away, but in the specific context of my relationship with my wife, overthinking things have been beneficial in a very specific instance:

In the moments when I thought we were over.

You see, when you feel someone’s love, like the soft pressure of a heart on yours, it’s hard to think about never having it. When people talk about relationships and love, it’s easier — and frankly, way more interesting — to talk about the benefits, the pros, the good feelings surrounding relationships.

You wouldn't want to read of the times when you had to go on a night drive because you couldn’t stand the person you vowed to love and cherish, would you?

You don’t want to recount the long conversations with therapists and family members between screams, tears, and psychotic chants, where you replayed every decision you ever made to marry and wondered what you did wrong to deserve the boiling anger spewing out of your soul.

Love should be happy, joyful, bliss, nothing more.

Or should it?

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Photo by Julian Myles on Unsplash

When I think of how much my wife and I have grown — or more importantly, how my view on love and relationships has evolved, I can’t help but think that yes, it is possible to make someone love you.

And yes, you can make someone love you.

It’s just that love — the idea of it — is not what keeps people together. People don’t love each other at the same time all the time. And even people who think they love each other may simply be dependent and need someone so they don’t feel lonely.

I have wondered if being lonely isn’t a good reason to be in a relationship. Seriously. I have read many articles that want people to figure out who they are, what they want, where they want to be in 10 years, etc before trying to be in a relationship. And guess what?

I don’t think that’s entirely true. I think you can find yourself in a relationship and both choose to become more.

There have been moments when I wanted to end it. Moments where I felt the strong urge to move away from my relationship and be by myself — because I felt I wasn’t ready to be with anyone; especially not my wife.

And babe, if you’re reading this ( which you probably are), I know you’ve had those moments yourself and with reason.

Why? Because I did not understand that love and commitment require two different mindsets.

You see, when you love someone, the morning hugs, the kind words, the gifts, the mind-blowing sex, the Netflix and chill, the movies — all the good stuff is where a lot of the measurement of the progress lies.

This is something I realize is only part of the deal — especially when it comes to long term romantic relationships.

Love is not enough to keep it going. It may start with a bang or a glowing ember, continue with a rush — a burning fuse.

What you’ll need to stay in a healthy happy relationship isn’t only love: it’s a commitment to each other and yourselves.

For all the times I have wanted to end it, what brought me back was a true expression of commitment — not love.

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Photo by Gus Moretta on Unsplash

When you watch your partner speak from the heart, in tears for something you know you are fully responsible for, it’s not the happy memories that jolt you to your knees for forgiveness.

It’s not what brought me to reconsidering my attitude, or making a concerted effort to be more accountable or taking responsibility or managing my emotions or communicating better — or even doing research about what it takes to be a better man.

Love didn’t do any of that for me.

When I think of my wife and the family I want for us, love elevates the good feelings of being fed and taken care of, but commitment wakes me at 4.45 am, to head to school, then work, then do my side-hustle, then chores at home, and still keep it together at night to be present when I’m exhausted because I know this is the time we have together.

Love means nothing without commitment.

Every time I have broken up with a girlfriend in the past, I can see that I loved them — I really did — I just wasn’t committed.

Commitment is not a feeling or a series of journal entries or affirmations.

It’s how you fight, how you argue, how you work — and for me especially recently — how you take responsibility for your relationship.

So yeah, it is easy to make someone fall in love with you. If you practice enough and understand human nature, you can make nearly anyone fall in love with you. I won’t mention that you might lose yourself in the process — becoming all these people for others.

Instead, I will ask this:

Can you make someone commit to you?

Can you make them want to become better so you can count on them?

Can you give them a reason to improve their lives to the point where they’re working so hard to achieve their potential just so they can provide for you and themselves?

That is the task worthwhile relationships require.

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Photo by Nqobile Vundla on Unsplash

Love is easy. Commitment is hard.

Love can be brewed with emotions — and even drinks; commitment is the marathon that tests your core and limits.

You can’t get someone to commit to you. All you can do is choose them and commit to them. Even then, they could still walk away from you.

Commitment is the ultimate expression of true love. Once you feel it, whether it’s in a hug, a last-minute salad, clean laundry, or a stern pep-talk in the middle of the night while you freak out, you’ll know it.

If you’re open to it, if you’re willing to work for it; if you can accept it for what it requires you to become, you can prepare to receive and give it.

You’ll understand it’s one of those miracles of life you can only receive by working hard on being your true, loving self.

I don’t want to hug my wife all the time. I’m not ready to receive her expression of love and kindness every day. It’s something I used to think meant I didn’t love her — but with time, we realized it was really about who we were and how we expressed that love.

I could write articles about her — by myself — basking in powerful thoughts of how much I care about her. That would mean nothing to her on most days. Yet, the commitment we’ve worked on, the hard conversations we’ve had, the introspection and willingness to both compromise and understand, what this is showing both of us ( and I speak for me here), is that no matter what your form of love expression is, when you’re committed to someone, you can learn how to speak their language.

The same way when you move to a new country you could learn the vocabulary, you can start to appreciate and express your feelings in ways that your partner can understand.

This is work. This is where you decide if the person is worth it.

Love can get you here. Love can get you a long way to going through tough times and dealing with a load of unhappy things.

But to move past that? To grow, change and choose each other every day?

You’ll need something more powerful. More intentional.

Guess what it is?

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Written by

Cameroonian writer and video creator. Featured in LEVEL and P.S. I Love You. I write about building relationships and personal transformation.

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